A Conduit for Creativity
By Marcus Key (B.A.'12)
Erica Jamison (B.A. '06)
To be a pioneer you must first have a vision. For Erica Jamison (B.A. '06), her vision involves art and cultivating a stronger creative community in Atlanta.
"Art is an integral part of any city," Jamison said. "The arts encourage people to be more thoughtful about the world and to see issues from different perspectives."
Growing up in rural Barnesville, Ga., Jamison's access to the arts was limited. After high school, Jamison felt she needed a more creative environment, so she moved to Atlanta to study film and journalism at Georgia State.
Jamison's vision took hold after taking a community-based film class in which she worked with underrepresented communities in Atlanta. The class inspired her to develop a new outlet for the arts.
"Once I became more involved, I felt there was a need for a space for people like myself, people who were interested in the arts but felt a little intimidated or overwhelmed by traditional art galleries and other institutions," she said.
In 2007, Jamison founded the MINT art gallery. MINT is not your typical type of art gallery; it's a nonprofit organization that provides exhibition space, curatorial opportunities and other resources to aspiring artists. MINT organizes exhibits in which anyone, regardless of experience level, can hang work on their walls.
"Most of our programming is based on how many artists we can support and the quality of the work itself," she said.
MINT, located in the historic Old Fourth Ward neighborhood of Atlanta, has hosted upward of 60 exhibits and worked with more than 200 artists.
Last fall, Jamison created the Leap Year program. Leap Year is a yearlong mentorship program that allows three emerging artists the opportunity to develop their creative voices by providing them with supplies, studio space and mentors.
"There haven't been many comprehensive programs in Atlanta designed for emerging artists," Jamison said. "Leap Year is like our version of grad school."
Jamison says MINT has big plans in the future as it continues to reach out to underserved areas in hopes of enriching the creative communities in Atlanta and throughout the state.
"The arts help us transcend barriers imposed by race, economic class, gender and orientation," said Jamison. "Therefore supporting and encouraging creativity is absolutely necessary for any city to thrive and grow."